New series 'Community,' premiering Thursday on NBC

Verne Gay
Newsday (MCT)
COMMUNITY - 9:30 p.m. EDT Thursday - NBC

REASON TO WATCH: Ken Jeong, Joel McHale, John Oliver, Chevy Chase ... and so on. An amazing comic cast.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Jeff Winger (McHale, host of E!'s "The Soup") is a speed-talking smart lawyer, or rather former lawyer who was disbarred because he lied about his college degree. (Went to "Colombia" ... now, he's got to get one from America! BA-dum.) He's come to Greendale Community College to get some easy credits because he figures a former client (Oliver, "The Daily Show"), now a prof at Greendale, will get him test answers.

Meanwhile, Winger fakes a little bit of Spanish to impress Britta (Gillian Jacobs), then launches a Spanish study group, which is a magnet for oddballs (cue "The Breakfast Club" jokes). They are Abed (Danny Pudi); Pierce (Chevy Chase), who created baby wipes and for some reason is at Greendale; high-strung Annie (Alison Brie); jock Troy (Donald Glover), and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown). They all adore Winger, Britta excepted.

BOTTOM LINE: "Community" was created by Dan Harmon, and his NBC bio reads: "Harmon is a native of Milwaukee, Wis. He's 36; he has chronic heartburn, a perfect girlfriend and a cat with no teeth. Wish him luck on this new adventure in life."

And wish him luck we will. Harmon is a horse of a different color, indeed — a co-creator and scribe on "The Sarah Silverman Program," and co-writer of 2006's "Monster House," a big-screen animated feature about a house that turns into a you-know-what. He spent a lot of time in community college — and apparently never graduated.

All this is a roundabout way of saying that Harmon may be as qualified to produce this show as his cat. And that, by the way, is a good thing. "Community" can be fresh, funny, smart and extremely aware of its own cleverness; it also can be terrifically odd — odd good, or odd bad, or sometimes odd-good-bad-strange all at once. By the time you get to the second episode, you'll see exactly what I mean.

Just wait for Jeong's Senor Chang, who makes his entrance next week. That alone makes this ride worthwhile, and maybe — maybe — a ride for the long haul.





'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?


Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.


IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.


Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.


NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.


PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.


David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.


Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".


Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.


The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.